September 30, 2010

Top 10 influencers from Clinton Global Initiative

Clinton Global Initiative

Sloane BerrentWhen I attended the Clinton Global Initiative last week, I told all of my friends (online and off) that it was a dream come true for me. On my life bucket list was the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative. The idea that I got to attend both while I’m 30 is just remarkable to me.

While at CGI last week, I operated very differently than I do at a lot of conferences. What I mean is that while I did network and connect with people, I was very focused on sharing and telling stories.

So when I was there, I decided that while I’m not a full-time journalist, I wanted to be the best version I could using the skills that I have. I thought it would be valuable to live-tweet most of CGI because I know for many people in circle and network, they would love to attend, and soak in the information like I did. But most people can’t be there, for a variety of reasons.

Something I’ve learned from my time spent volunteering in developing countries and year of travel is that people love to share in the experience. So blogging and taking photos and videos, using Facebook and Twitter — all of these online tools allow many who are just as deserving of attending (if not more so) to be able to witness the event. Continue reading

September 28, 2010

New media workshop for nonprofits & ethnic media publishers



My guest talk Friday at SF State’s LearningLAB

JD LasicaI‘ll be one of the guest lecturers Friday at San Francisco State University at LearningLAB, the second annual multimedia journalism training conference for nonprofits and the community and ethnic news media.

The event is billed as “four new media experts who will introduce you to some of the latest tools, best practices and innovations aimed at helping you advance your nonprofit’s cause and tell your community’s stories. These tools can also help make your work easier, simpler and more effective — and are low-cost or free!”

Meet the Innovators: They Put the “New” in New Media

Participants are:

• 9-10 am: Jake Hubert, a communications manager for search at Google, will demonstrate the basics of Web searches and how, by using free Google products and resources, you can get the most out of your online searches.

• 10-10:30 am: Philip Neustrom, creator of the hugely popular Davis Wiki, a community wiki site for Davis, Calif., will show you how to bring collaborative, community-owned media to your community through a wiki website.

• 10:30-11 am: Jacob Colker, co-founder and CEO of The Extraordinaries, will introduce you to online micro-volunteering. With the click of a mouse, nonprofits can significantly increase their capacity by crowdsourcing work for free to thousands of talented corporate professionals online.

• 11-11:30am: J.D. Lasica, a social media strategist, will present Socialbrite, a learning hub and sharing community that brings together top experts in social media, causes and online philanthropy to share insights about tools and best practices that advance the social good.

Multimedia journalist Sharon Vaknin of CNET will moderate, and we’ll end at noon.

When: Friday, Oct. 1, 9 am to noon; plus a separate workshop on Saturday, Oct. 2, from 8:30 am to 4 pm

Where: San Francisco State University College of Extended Learning, 835 Market St., Room 674, San Francisco

How much: $30. Register here. Continue reading

September 27, 2010

How nonprofits can get started with mobile

How nonprofits can get started with mobile from JD Lasica on Vimeo.


Some tips about how to create an effective mobile campaign

This is part two of a two-part series on how organizations can use mobile tech for social good. See part one: A beginner’s guide to mobile fundraising.

JD LasicaWith the explosion of mobile giving in the wake of this year’s humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti and the Gulf Coast, nonprofits and social change organizations are now taking a new look at what mobile might be able to do for their own causes.

Nicola Wells, regional field director for the Center for Community Change’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement, offers nonprofits a half dozen tips about how to get started with mobile and create an effective mobile campaign, whether for fundraising, recruiting or other goals. The 11-minute interview was conducted just after we presented the Mobilize Your Cause bootcamp at City University of New York as part of Personal Democracy Forum.

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement is a national coalition of immigrants rights groups whose work in social media has three goals: to build a list of individuals who can be called upon when needed to press for immigration reform legislation; to communicate important news and information to those individuals as the campaign evolves, and to engage those supporters and build a relationship with them.

Mobile was a key component of the strategy. Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Nicola noted that immigrants and people of color tend to use mobile more than the general population, and a lot of FIRM’s supporters did not have computers and did not belong to Web-based communities like Care2 or Thus, mobile was the perfect tool for keeping in touch with them.

Wading into the mobile space should not be done lightly, however. “It really takes a lot of staff time just to set up the mobile piece: to create the messaging, do the copy editing and to deal with the day-to-day functioning of the list,” she says.

When the mobile initiative got underway, the executive team had to make sure they had staffing in place and in alignment, including having a key manager of the social media team involved in the mobile campaign. Next, they dedicated to the team a tech expert who was familiar with mobile campaigns and brought in Mobile Commons — a text messaging platform for mobile marketing — to handle the back end.

They talked with partners before they began building the list so they could figure out the right positioning and managed to negotiate relationships to get their long-term buy-in, Nicola said. Finally, they began thinking deeply about the user experience, particularly:

  • calls to action, including urging them to attend rallies on behalf of the cause
  • alerts, so that when specific high-tension information came out, people would be in the loop
  • a feedback loop that gave members a sense of having access to the campaign

Key lessons learned along the way

Some key lessons they learned, Nicola said, were these:

  • You really have to put your short code and mobile information everywhere you put your url.
  • Person to person is the best way to sign people up, not through email.
  • Have people at your events walking through the crowd to recruit people for the mobile list. “Computers are not the best way to sign people up.”
  • Once you have a short code, try not to change it, because you’re building a brand around your code and number. For example, FIRM uses the short code JUSTICE (Justicia in Spanish) texted to 69866.
  • You really have to learn the art of communicating complex ideas in 160 characters. “Allow one or two people on your team to take ownership of that,” Nicola says. “I like to call them the gatekeepers.”

Continue reading

September 24, 2010

A beginner’s guide to mobile fundraising

wateraid Image by Mexicanwave on Flickr

Some tips to get you on your way to your first mobile campaign

This is the first of a two-part series on how organizations can use mobile tech for social good. See part two: How nonprofits can get started with mobile.

JD Lasica2010 will go down as the year nonprofits began to understand the potential of mobile giving. From the Haiti earthquake to the Gulf oil spill to relief efforts in Pakistan and Chile, social change organizations have begun to harness the power of mobile for a wide array of causes.

Most famously, the American Red Cross’s Text Haiti campaign raised $32 million in the month after the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January — about 10 percent of its donations came through mobile.

In texting, the response rate for getting people to call a decision maker on the organization’s behalf is 4.9 percent — 6 times the email response rate.

That level of giving dwarfs the figure of $4 million for all mobile donations — for all causes — in 2009. Still, it’s worth remembering that few organizations have the ability to galvanize support on a scale similar to the Red Cross and its Haiti efforts.

With tens millions of people now routinely using text messaging features — young people, especially, are in love with texting — the time is ripe for nonprofits to understand how they can use mobile fundraising not as a silver bullet but as one element of a broader strategy.

Here’s a short primer on how mobile donations and campaigns work, with an emphasis on mobile fundraising.

Mobile fundraising: Getting started

There are generally five ways in which nonprofits and other organizations use text messaging:

  1. fundraising
  2. advocacy
  3. information and public awareness
  4. driving traffic to websites
  5. text replies asking people to text in slogan ideas, request more information, etc.

If you’re considering launching a mobile fundraising effort, you’ll want to start off by conducting some research. Start by watching our interview with Nicola Wells of Fair Immigration Reform Movement, which does a masterful job with mobile, and read our primer on How to set up an SMS campaign system.

Next, check out the 2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks study. Prepared by M+R Strategic Services and MobileActive, it’s a thorough analysis of mobile advocacy and mobile fundraising metrics for nonprofits. Some highlights from the study:

  • More than 80 percent of text message users come from email lists.
  • Growth rate is about 49.5 percent, though churn (turnover) is at 31 percent..
  • The response rate for text messaging where people are asked to make a call to a decision maker on the organization’s behalf is 4.9 percent. That is six times the rate of emails requesting recipients to call in.

One example: The Human Rights Campaign used text messaging in an innovative campaign in which they asked supporters to text back the word “shop” and the name of a company, and the organization sent back a score from their Corporate Equality Index, telling them how supportive of lesbian/bisexual/gay/transsexual issues the company was. And Keep a Child Alive, with a push from Alicia Keyes, generated more than 90,000 new donors through its Text ALIVE Challenge (PDF).

What the donor sees in the mobile giving process

If you’re a donor, here’s how mobile giving may look from your perspective:

  • You decide to donate to a cause with your mobile device. In the United States, you’re permitted to donate only $5 or $10 at a time. The amount is determined by the organization running the campaign, not by the donor. In the years ahead, expect some flexibility to enter the equation.
  • You use the SMS (short message service) application on your phone to text a keyword — such as HAITI, DOLPHIN, etc. — to a a five- or six-digit number called a short code. The organization involved determines both the keyword and the short code, and the short code cannot be used to send non-fundraising communications.
  • You’ll then receive an automated response on your device from the organization, typically asking you to confirm your donation with a YES or OK.
  • Next, you’ll receive an automated confirmation text message, typically thanking you for your gift and pointing to a website with additional information or letting you opt in to text message updates on the campaign.
  • On your next mobile phone bill, you’ll see a charge for the amount you donated. (If you use a prepaid account for your phone, typically you won’t be able to make a donation through a text message.)

What else you need to know

A few points to take into consideration:

• As your organization builds up its mobile list, you’ll have only limited direct information about the donor — essentially, the telephone number. You can use it to send a follow-up text messages to a donor asking for more information — most often, an email address — or to ask the donor to opt into other text message campaigns.

• A donor must be allowed to opt out of further communications by replying to a message with the single word STOP or NO.

• There are only two U.S. nonprofits that work with the mobile carriers as conduits for mobile giving via text message: the mGive Foundation and the Mobile Giving Foundation. They’ll need to sign off on your organization’s eligibility for a campaign. The standards for The mGive Foundation are called Charitable Participation Standards (PDF), and the standards for Mobile Giving Foundation are the MGF Guidelines. While these standards require that your organization must have raised at least $500,000 in the previous year, there’s a workaround for smaller nonprofis: You can use the Mobile Giving Foundation’s relationship with, which it designates as a “mobile agency.”

• Because of the mechanics of mobile transactions, it may take up to 90 days before the nonprofit receives the donation.

• At $5 or $10 a clip, mobile giving is a far cry from “the $71 average donation seen across the nonprofit sector in response to email solicitations, according to the Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks study.

• Don’t underestimate the resources it will take for someone on your team to manage a rapidly growing mobile list in a professional manner. Continue reading

September 24, 2010

Social media ROI: The metrics and strategies

WWT 2010: Social Media ROI
View more presentations from womenwhotech.

Guest post by Ryann Miller

Ryann-MillerLast week I attended the Women Who Tech TeleSummit. One of the most anticipated sessions was the session with blogger Beth Kanter and Lauren Varga of Radian6 and moderated by Roz Lemieux of Fission Strategy.

I’ve long admired and respected Beth, and I’m a fan of Radian6, a social media monitoring service. The session covered a lot of ground for a fairly contained topic and I was impressed with the depth and breadth of the presentation. Beth and Lauren discussed both strategy and tools, tips and metrics, leaving little ground uncovered. The focus was around the return on investment: how to think of the value of social media, the things you need before starting any campaign, and how to measure, analyze and sell campaigns. Here’s a recap:

Part I: A guide for your social media adventure

Let’s say you want to get started using social media. Where? How? While this session wasn’t a primer, Beth’s four ‘I’s, plus the discussion on objectives and SMART analysis, are a fantastic starting point.

The philosophy and definition of ROI

Beth’s four ‘I’ terms are a contextual lens through which to look at social media ROI. She said she takes a broader definition of ROI, to include:

  1. Return on Insight: this is about harvesting intelligence about what works and what doesn’t, to apply to the future. Listening, learning and adapting – sometimes called an iterative process – means that you take a longer-term view of the project, that sometimes a culture change within your organization is necessary to make room for reflection, and that you’ll find success and know what it is when you find it. If you find that tweeting about the hard-hitting emotional stuff seems to get the biggest reaction every time, apply this to remaining communications for this medium even if it means going back and changing agreed-upon communication pieces. Beyond that, remember it for future campaigns.
  3. Return on Interaction: it’s about engagement and relationship building with your audience. The goal is to set people on the ladder of engagement to become donors/members/lovers of your cause. But before you get there, how are they engaging with you? What are they saying? How do they treat your brand? This has to be monitored in order to be evaluated.
  5. Return on Investment: investment is about value, and measuring the relationship between what you’ve done and what it costs. Some tangible indicators are: fundraised dollars, new activists or email list growth, new volunteers,
  7. Return on Impact: this is about our big goal – to effect social change. Sometimes impact is different or more than just about investment. If you can use Twitter to stop a company from doing something, or vote for something, while that may be hard to quantify, there is a return on impact.

These four ‘I’s are valuable as a starting point for any organization looking to dive into social media in a concerted way. I’d recommend a discussion around these four ‘I’s by any team about to start a social media campaign, because it’ll help you to be thoughtful and reflective, and therefore more strategic, as you get started and get comfortable with social media metrics and measurement. I think Beth’s underlying point here is: Do this thoughtfully and with goals and guidelines. Continue reading

September 24, 2010

How to create a comments policy for your blog


John HaydonIf you’re launching a blog for your nonprofit or organization, one thing you’ll have to think about is how to deal with comments.

And if you’re like most nonprofits, you’ve probably already had a few discussions on this very topic.

What is a comments policy?

A comments policy (or community guidelines) is a set of rules and expectations your readers can follow when commenting. A good comments policy should accomplish the following goals:

  • Encourage the reader to comment, debate and even disagree
  • Convey a sense that all voices are heard, valued and equal members of the blog community
  • Outline comment ownership and liability
  • State rules for how links will be treated
  • Define what would be considered disrespectful
  • Define what would be considered spam
  • Set expectations for comments that will be edited or deleted

How to write a comments policy

  1. Discuss – The first step in writing a comments policy is to discuss the above goals with relevant stakeholders. Do it in person, face to face, where possible.
  2. Listen to concerns – Understand that some folks in your organization will fear the transparency of a blog, and will come up with all sorts of scary commenting scenarios. Don’t dismiss these concerns. Instead, acknowledge and discuss their fears openly. Often, just talking with them openly about their concerns will make them feel better.
  3. Be positive – Focus on creating an overall positive tone in the policy. And avoid legal jargon (remember, you want comments).

Continue reading